Millions of Americans live with sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by temporary loss of breath during sleep. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by physical obstructions that hinder air circulation in breathing passages; and central sleep apnea (CSA), which occurs when the brain is unable to properly send signals to the muscles that control breathing. Many people with OSA rely on continuous positive air pressure machines, or CPAP machines, which deliver air at prescribed pressure rates throughout the night. People with CSA, on the other hand, may be able to alleviate their symptoms through bi-level positive air pressure machines, or BiPAP machines, which delivers air at variable pressure rates depending on the individual’s breathing activity.
Both CPAP and BiPAP machines hook up to face masks and deliver air through a connective hose. The masks are interchangeable between the two machine types, but are usually referred to simply as ‘CPAP masks.’ Unlike full face CPAP masks, which cover the entire nose and mouth, nasal CPAP masks deliver cover the nose only. As a result, some nasal CPAP mask wearers sleep with their mouths open — but open-mouth sleeping can have an adverse effect on CPAP therapy. To ensure their CPAP therapy is effective, nasal CPAP mask users who sleep with their mouths open often use adjustable chinstraps to keep their mouth closed. A wide range of chinstrap styles and designs are available, and most cost less than $40.
This guide will look at the benefits of using a CPAP mask chinstrap, common design features, important tips for shoppers, and our picks for the top-rated CPAP chinstrap models.
Benefits and Design Features of CPAP Chinstraps
People sleep with their mouths open for different reasons. For many it is a natural sleep position, but certain conditions — such as a deviated septum or nasal congestion — may also be the primary cause.
Sleeping with one’s mouth open during CPAP therapy is detrimental for two reasons.
It negatively affects the pressure rate of air being delivered. If the user’s mouth is open, the CPAP machine will probably not be able to provide air at the prescribed rate.
It can lead to an uncomfortable condition known as xerostomia, or dry mouth, which occurs when salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet.
The best CPAP chinstraps will help maintain proper CPAP/BiPAP air pressure and prevent dry mouth symptoms. They can also help minimize the chronic snoring associated with sleep apnea, since people who sleep with their mouths open are more likely to snore. Chinstraps are also a convenient, low-cost workaround for individuals who cannot afford a CPAP full face mask; these masks often cost between $100 and $150. Additionally, a chinstrap is useful for people who are unable to train themselves to sleep with their mouths closed, which can be a difficult undertaking.
Most CPAP chinstraps are made of strong, breathable materials like nylon, neoprene, and/or polyester. The straps are secured on both sides, usually around the temples. Some models feature an additional strap that fits around the crown of the head, while others have a cap-like covering instead. This simple, non-invasive design allows for complete range of motion and clear speaking when the chinstrap is being worn.
Please note that, unlike CPAP machines and masks, CPAP chinstraps do not require a doctor’s prescription to purchase.
Important chinstrap design considerations include:
Sizing: Dimensions are key when selecting a CPAP chinstrap. The strap should be long enough to keep the chin closed when secured. It’s important to note that chinstraps are not designed to force the mouth closed, but rather hold the jaw closed when the wearer is sleeping or in a resting position. Ideally, a chinstrap should be worn tightly enough to maintain full jaw closure, but loose enough to open one’s mouth if they need to speak.
Closure: Most CPAP chinstraps are secured with hook-and-loop closures, although some models may feature buckles instead.
Chin guard: A cushioned chin guard, typically three to five inches in length and thicker than the straps, is positioned beneath the chin for added comfort and support. In some cases, the chin guard matches the thickness of the straps.
Hair and Facial Hair: Hair may be a concern for some wearers, particularly females with long hair, as the straps can catch on loose strands around the edge of the face. Wearers with long hair may be able to prevent painful catching and tangling by pinning back their hair in areas where it comes into contact with the straps. Facial hair is not as susceptible to tangling, but men with longer beards should take their beard dimensions into account when selecting a CPAP chinstrap based on size.
Cleaning: Most CPAP chinstraps should never be machine washed, but some may be cleaned this way. To clean a non-machine-washable CPAP chinstrap, simply scrub with mild shampoo or mild soap. Avoid using bleach or antibacterial soaps. After cleaning, allow the chinstrap to air dry. Whether or not they are machine washable, chinstraps require regular cleaning in order to maintain hygiene and preserve the product’s lifespan.
Key Considerations for CPAP Chinstrap Shoppers
When shopping for a new CPAP chinstrap and comparing different brands and models, here are a few things to keep in mind.
What is your shopping budget? The majority of CPAP chinstraps sold today are available for less than $40, but budget-minded shoppers can usually find models for $20 or less.
What are your facial measurements? Most CPAP chinstraps are adjustable with one-size-fits-all designs for users with different facial structures, but those with exceptionally small or large chins and/or jawlines may require custom models that accommodate their relatively uncommon dimensions.
Do you have long hair and/or facial hair? This may not affect your chinstrap choice, but extra measures (such as pinning back hair) may be needed to ensure a secure fit.
Have you tested out the chinstrap? If possible, try on several models before making a purchase, as some models are likely to be less comfortable than others.
How is the chinstrap secured? Hook-and-loop closures provide a more customized fit, whereas models with buckle closures are more limited. Most chinstraps sold today feature the former. Some models forgo closures completely and utilize elastic straps, but these may become misshapen after continuous use.
How wide is the chin guard? Generally, the wider the chin guard is, the more comfortable the strap will feel. However, testing out different models is the best way to ensure the chinstrap you choose will provide sufficient cushioning around the chin.
How wide are the straps? Some wearers prefer thinner straps that cover less area along the jawline and cheeks, while others are more comfortable with thicker straps that cover the entire cheek and have a similar feel to medical gauze.
How many straps are included? All CPAP chinstraps feature a ‘wide strap’ that travels beneath the chin and along both sides of the face. Some also feature a ‘stability strap’ (also known as a ‘halo strap’) that wraps around the back of the head for added support. In lieu of a stability/halo strap, some models have caps that fit around the circumference of the wearer’s head, and can be worn under different types of headgear; these are usually designed for wearers with specific head sizes.
What materials are used to make the chinstrap? Chinstraps are typically made from lightweight, breathable materials like nylon, neoprene, and/or polyester. This consideration comes down to personal preference, as well as any applicable allergies.
Can you afford a CPAP full face mask? Although some models cost up to $150, full face masks are generally considered more effective at keeping your mouth closed during sleeping — and more comfortable — than chinstraps.
Best CPAP Chinstraps: Brands and Models
Next, let’s look at the best CPAP chinstraps according to actual owners and wearers. The following six chinstraps are currently available for purchase.
Original Deluxe Chinstrap
PAPCap Cotton Chinstrap
Puresom Ultra Chinstrap
Wide and stability straps
Wide and stability straps
Wide strap, plus cap top
Wide and stability straps
Wide strap only
Wide strap only
Small/Medium Large/Extra Large
Strap Length (Overall)
17 3/4″ (wide strap) 10″ (stability strap)
26″ (wide strap) 12″ (stability strap)
18 1/2″ (both sizes) S/M fits heads measuring 21″ to 22 1/4″ L/XL fits heads measuring 22 5/8″ to 24″